The Federal Government ( FG) might have approved N35.4 billion following the long weeks strike embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The prolong strike by the University Union was for FG to meet series of demand promised during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Similar scenario played out in 2009, when FG, reached an agreement with the staff unions of universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the country.
The agreement was reached after marathon negotiations that lasted for about two years between the government and the academic unions.
For the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the agreement reached at the negotiations included conditions of service for university lecturers, funding of universities, university autonomy and academic freedom, and issues that required legislation to implement.
It is quite unfortunate that since 2009, FG delayed the implementation of these agreements with these Unions.
As a result, our universities, polytechnics and colleges of education have not known peace because of perennial industrial actions that staff unions embark upon every now and then to press home their demands.
The implementation of these agreements will no doubt eliminate most of the challenges that tertiary education in the country are having.
Tertiary education requires adequate funding and the government must come to term with that.
The miserable state of our universities and other tertiary institutions in the country, calls for a state of emergency.
Most of these institutions are glorified secondary schools with dilapidated structures.
They do not have functional laboratories and libraries. The lecturers do not have access to fund for research work and hardly attain seminars and workshops to learn as a result of poor funding of these institutions.
This has resulted in some of our best brains living the shores of this country to other countries of the world where their knowledge, experience and expertise will be much appreciated.
The question is: Who bears the brunt? Of course the students and to a large extent the nation.
In September 2017, FG released N20 billion revitalization fund for universities and released N1.3 trillion to distressed banks.
This shows that the government is not interested in public universities as the children of the top politicians and rich men in the society patronize private universities at the detriment of public institutions.
It is high time that the government get its priority right. The world has moved on and we have to join the train of economic, political and social development by shaping our tertiary education to be in tune with modern realities.
Tertiary education should be properly funded so that quality human resources needed for the growth of our economy and advancement of our national interests can be produced.
It is good news that FG reached an agreement with ASUU on Monday so that the Union can call off its over two months old strike.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, while addressing journalists in Abuja on Monday, said that the majority of their demands have been met including the release of N15.4 billion for payment of salary shortfalls; promising that FG will release another N20 billion for payment of earned allowances for university lecturers.
As commendable as the effort made by the government is, more are needed to be done.
Currently, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), are still on strike and the government has done little or nothing concerning their demands.
This palliative approach adopted by the government in sorting out the demands of these academic unions, will not lay to rest the issue of perennial strike which has crippled these institutions.
FG should adopt the United Nations (UN) recommendations that at least 26 per cent of a country’s annual budget, should be channelled to education.
When this is done, the tertiary institutions in the country, will be effective and efficient in service delivery; which will lead to the overall development of our country.